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Arch Hellen Med, 31(4), July-August 2014, 461-467


HCV infection in intravenous drug users in Greece during the period January 1997 through December 2007

M. Sheka,1,2 I.S. Elefsiniotis,1 S. Patrinos,1 G. Saroglou1
1University Department of Internal Medicine-Hepatology, "Elena Venizelou" Hospital, Athens,
2Emergency Help and Support Unit, Greek Organization against Drugs, Athens, Greece

OBJECTIVE Study of the prevalence of hepatitis C in intravenous drug users (IVDUs) in Greece.

METHOD An epidemiological questionnaire was completed by personal interview with 2,668 IVDUs who attended the Greek Organization against Drugs (OKANA) from January 1997 through December 2007. Descriptive statistical analysis, using chi-square test, Fisher's exact test and univariate and multiple logistic regression was applied using STATA v. 12.1 software.

RESULTS The IVDUs were mainly men (81%) aged 25–45 years, who had started drug use at the age of 5–24 years. Most of them lived with their parents (55.2%), in Athens (98.3%) and were unemployed (69%) and 34% were secondary school graduates. They had started drug use with hashish (68%) and continued with heroin (72.9%), on a daily basis in 81.4%. They tested positive for AIDS, hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis A (HAV) and anti-HBc in percentages of 1.05%, 72.23%, 36.21% and 45.01%, respectively. HCV prevalence decreased from 85.7% in those who started illicit drug use in 1971–1980, to 34% in those who started after 2001. HCV prevalence increased with age, from 52.55% in those aged 15–24 years to 90% in those above 65 years. Logistic regression analysis revealed that anti-HCV(+) was related to the anti-HBc outcome, the first decade of illicit substance use, the habitual use of a common syringe, the age at onset of drug use, age, educational level, the anti-HAV response, previous treatment, and IVDU use during the last month.

CONCLUSIONS IVDUs in Greece are mainly unemployed young men using heroin on a daily base. HCV prevalence in IVDUs has shown a reduction over time, but increases with age and therefore the length of time of drug use, as documented in the international literature.

Key words: HCV infection, Hepatitis prevalence, IVDUs, Organization against drugs, Profile.

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